社説:広島土砂災害 検証尽くして教訓導け

August 23, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Learning a lesson from Hiroshima landslides
社説:広島土砂災害 検証尽くして教訓導け

The number of residents reported missing following major landslides in northern Hiroshima in the predawn hours of Aug. 20 has significantly increased, threatening to make the disaster the worst of its kind in recent years when combined with the confirmed death toll.

Initially seven people were reported missing, but a little over 24 hours later that figure climbed to over 50. The discrepancy in the numbers reported missing comes from police and local municipalities using different methods to confirm the safety of residents.

The difficulty that officials face in fully grasping the extent of the damage indicates how severe the disaster is.

With rain continuing to fall intermittently, rescuers are desperately searching for the missing while remaining on alert against secondary damage. All efforts should be exhausted in search and rescue operations, with priority put on saving human lives.

Amid ongoing power and water outages in the disaster-hit areas, an increasing number of residents have been forced to take shelter at public facilities.

Local municipalities are urged to pay close attention to residents' needs so that volunteers can provide adequate support.

Hiroshima Prefecture has the most spots vulnerable to sediment disaster in Japan.

However, the designation of warning zones under the Act on Sediment Disaster Countermeasures for Sediment Disaster Prone Areas has not come fast enough.

The residential areas that suffered damage in the latest landslides were prone to disasters due to their proximity to mountains, but most of them had not been designated as sediment disaster-prone areas.

Financial and manpower shortages have reportedly hampered the progress of field surveys, while residents are reluctant to have land designated as being disaster-prone, fearing that their property values will be downgraded.

Nevertheless, it is serious that such an immense disaster hit areas that had not been listed as being disaster-prone.

If more damage like this arises, criticism that the disaster was a man-made calamity could intensify.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is urged to review the operation of the law and promote the designation of areas prone to sediment disaster as such.

If reviews alone are insufficient, legislative revisions need to be deliberated in the Diet.

The city of Hiroshima has acknowledged that its evacuation advisory came too late, and is poised to review the standards for issuing such advisories.

Memories of the landslide disaster on Izu Oshima Island in October last year, when an absence of an evacuation advisory or order resulted in many casualties, remains fresh in our minds.

The central government subsequently notified municipalities across the nation to issue evacuation advisories without fearing that they might turn out to be unnecessary.

The government should fully reassure municipalities about the directive once again.

It is difficult and dangerous for residents to evacuate at night, but the risks could be lowered in some cases if people moved to the upper floors of buildings.

In the Hiroshima disaster, a family found their way to safety by evacuating upstairs to the second floor of their home. 今回の災害でも1階から2階に移り全員が無事だった家族がいた。

Residents in disaster-prone areas should regularly discuss how to act in the event of a disaster and make steadfast preparations.

In the wake of the torrential rain that hit the Kii Peninsula in September 2011, leaving 82 people dead and 16 missing, the Wakayama Prefectural Government created guidelines for issuing evacuation advisories.

The guidelines require avoidance of ambiguous expressions.

They also require the use of numerical criteria such as accumulated precipitation so residents can make an objective judgment.

In the Hyogo Prefecture town of Sayo, where flooding from a typhoon five years ago left 18 dead and two missing, the town office introduced a monitoring system in which residents living near rivers report water levels and other relevant information, based on which the town office decides whether to issue evacuation advisories.

We should take note of such system improvements grounded in lessons learned from tragedies.

In the Hiroshima disaster, the cause and background factors of the extensive damage should be thoroughly verified so we can utilize the information in future measures.

毎日新聞 2014年08月23日 02時33分(最終更新 08月23日 09時39分)

by kiyoshimat | 2014-08-25 12:54 | 英字新聞

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